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OpenMarket: Business and Government

  • A Billion Here, a Billion There …

    March 19, 2020
    Amidst all these temporary war powers, rules, regulations, commands, restrictions, bailouts, and stimulus packages, it is wise to remember the words of Milton Friedman: “Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program.” I remember when a $1 billion was a lot of money. Now people are tossing billions around like it was chump change.
  • Post-Corona Politics: Opportunities and Threats

    March 19, 2020

    There is a lot of attention being paid to the latest emergency legislation being proposed to address the coronavirus pandemic, from $1,000 checks for every American to paid leave for U.S. workers to a bailout for the airline industry. While those proposals are debated and implemented, however, we have the opportunity to think about what lessons the current crisis can teach us about longer term changes. Political observers often facetiously use the phrase “never let a crisis go to waste” to refer to a cynical attempt to hijack an emergency with unrelated priorities, but if the dislocations caused by our current...

  • Getting Rid of #NeverNeeded Regulations Hindering Coronavirus Response

    March 18, 2020
    What can Washington do to minimize harm from the coronavirus? Some of the best policy responses are coming not from imposing new regulations, but from loosening old ones. In fact, many such rules were never needed in the first place. To that end, a Twitter hashtag, #NeverNeeded, is collecting a small but growing list of ideas for rules to get rid of, as well as rules that already have been eased.
  • Toilet Paper Economics: Emergency Capitalism Still Better Than Normal Socialism

    March 17, 2020

    There are quite a few hot takes circulating at the moment about how grocery stores temporarily running out of toilet paper amid the current coronavirus pandemic is a stinging indictment of a capitalist economy. Most of those takes are not serious enough to be worth refuting, but apparently it bears repeating that consumer choice in a free society during difficult times is still better than the options that are available under normal conditions in a socialist society.

    I blogged a while back about how most Americans who tell pollsters that they approve of “socialism” aren’t talking about the life they would experience under an actual socialist regime. When they say they like socialism they mean...

  • Liberty in the Time of Coronavirus Part 2

    March 16, 2020
    Much of the money dedicated to medical research and services comes from the federal government. While some may see this is a good way to coordinate efforts on important health goals, libertarians have criticized this top-down influence for corrupting the reliability of research.
  • Regulation, Confusion, and the Irony of Emergency COVID-19 Testing

    March 16, 2020
    By now, readers are aware that testing in the United States for the novel coronavirus COVID-19 has been embarrassingly slow. Less well known is that overregulation is largely to blame. And the biggest obstacle to more expedient testing has been, ironically, a law intended to expedite treatment during public health emergencies.
  • Coronavirus and the Limits of "Flash Policy"

    March 12, 2020
    The coronavirus outbreak is serious, and it deserves a serious response. If you’re healthy, help people out. If you have elderly relatives or neighbors, reach out and see if they need anything. If you need help yourself, don’t be embarrassed to ask for it. If you need to cancel travel, work from home, or even self-quarantine, do so. It might be unpleasant, but it’s likely better than the alternative. And, of course, be diligent about washing your hands. But what about public policy? The real meat of Washington’s coronavirus response should focus on the long term, not the short term. Congress should refrain from passing what my colleague Wayne Crews calls “flash policy,” such as a crisis-inspired stimulus package, or bailouts, or rash monetary fixes.
  • Sen. Toomey Defends Capitalism

    March 12, 2020
    This week Sen. Pat Toomey gave an excellent and much-needed speech at the Heritage Foundation on capitalism and its right-leaning critics. Toomey made clear that he anti-market measures promoted by self-described nationalists and populists would be a failure if enacted.
  • Big-Mouth CEOs Less of a Threat than Crusading Politicians

    March 4, 2020
    Free-market advocates are understandably skeptical of “stakeholder” capitalism—the idea that corporate managers should focus not just on returns to shareholders, but on pleasing a potentially long list of other groups that claim an interest in the operations (and on the profits) of a company. Any given board and management team can apportion their own resources as they see fit, of course, but we small-government types are wary of theoretically voluntary guidelines for social and environmental awareness being transformed into binding legal requirements down the road.
  • Regulatory Hurdles Already Impeding Competition to Big Tech

    March 3, 2020
    Calls to regulate “big tech” firms continue to grow louder. Concerns range from the ability of these firms to influence the political landscape to allegations of anti-competitive mergers and acquisitions. Regardless of the specific gripe, the accompanying purported solutions almost universally involve more government regulation. However, these sentiments are just the latest versions of a problem that has plagued antitrust law since its inception: the relevant market fallacy.

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